Arguably a top ten point guard of all-time, Jason Kidd has the pedigree to potentially, someday, make a great coach. I say potentially for history is littered with former great players who were not good, let alone great coaches.
But, is Kidd qualified, let alone the most qualified, to take over as coach of the Brooklyn Nets today?
In a word: No. In three words: Not even close.
In sports, there is this idea that an ex-player might not be qualified to coach but if he played and starred for a specific team, that somehow overrides any other lack of qualification and warrants consideration.
My favorite baseball player growing up was Don Mattingly. When Joe Torre decided he wanted to decline the New York Yankees offer and step away, Mattingly was under consideration to be the next Yankee manager. Unlike Kidd, Mattingly did serve as batting and bench coach but was still considered inexperienced for he lacked managerial experience at any level. As much as a part of me wanted Mattingly to be the guy, Joe Girardi was the better choice.
Did any other team express interest in Mattingly at the time? No. This lack of opportunity suggests that it was premature for the Yankees to be considering Mattingly in the first place. As I suspect it is for the Nets to have interviewed and consider Kidd.
Mark Jackson, another great point guard without any coaching experience has found success as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. But this came after years away from the game and serving as a TV analyst alongside an established former head coach, Jeff Van Gundy.
Personally, I prefer and respect those who pay their dues and serve as an assistant, such as a hot coaching candidate like Brian Shaw.
However, while not coaching experience, at least as an analyst, Jackson was able to study the game on a regular basis. Distant from his playing days and player mindset, he got to know all of the players and managerial personal. Further, he could discuss them, and analyze game situation after situation with Van Gundy.
The advantage here is as a point guard you may do this through the lens of your own teams strengths and weaknesses but as an analyst you’re putting yourself in the mindset of everyone you cover without bias. You are looking at the game from every angle seeing what works and what doesn’t. And while Kidd’s experience and greatness as a player is a strong step in that direction, an analyst like Jackson or an assistant like Shaw are simply further down the road.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com: “Kidd — with no coaching experience at age 40 — only would be considered if he could assemble “an All-Star cast” of veteran assistants to support him, the source said.”
The thing that I find irritating about this is, um, why not just hire one of the all-star assistants to be the head coach and Kidd to be the assistant?
If the dark side of the force decided to field a basketball team, who be the coach and who be the assistant between Darth Vader and the Evil Emperor? Between Mr. Miyagi and Danielson?
The idea of Kidd being a coach to an all-star assistant gets the whole mentor/ apprentice thing backwards.
You can say it worked for the Boston Celtics with Doc Rivers and Thom Thibodeau. Setting aside that Doc was also an analyst first: Let’s be honest, as much as we like Doc, (and we do like him), his team was loaded with talent. And while they’re both top coaches, time is proving Thibodeau to be the better one…
There is no reason why the next Thibodeau or Carlisle (arguably Brian Shaw or someone like him) should have to groom Kidd because they weren’t as good of players as Kidd or Bird.
No disrespect meant to Kidd (or Bird) who I think has potential to make a great coach. If he really wants it, let him work as hard at earning that opportunity as he did improving his outside shot. And not just have it handed to him because he played for the Nets and led them to two NBA finals.